Chelsea have never had coaching staff who cared more about the club than the group led by Frank Lampard, according to his assistant Jody Morris.

Head coach Lampard and Morris were removed from their positions on Monday to make room for Thomas Tuchel, who is on the brink of being appointed at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea great Lampard released a statement ruing the fact he was not given more time to turn the situation around, the Blues having slumped to ninth in the Premier League at the halfway stage this season.

The former England international was nonetheless proud of what he had done to help promote younger players to the first team.

They were sentiments echoed by Morris, who praised Lampard for working "tirelessly" to improve the squad.

"I am immensely proud to say I have been stood next to our gaffa Frank Lampard who has worked tirelessly to improve the players and the culture every single day," Morris wrote on Instagram.

"Us as your staff could not ask for a better leader!!

"There has never been a bunch in that dugout that cared more inside Stamford Bridge!!

"I'm even prouder of the work that has gone on day in day out at Cobham in what has been the toughest period anybody has had to face in charge."

Former Chelsea midfielder Morris – who thanked the fans and owner Roman Abramovich – was also with Lampard at Derby County in the Championship.

He added: "Yesterday [Monday] was tough to take on all levels.

"It has hurt twice previously that I've had to leave this great club, but it's been on my terms and both times it was done with the bigger picture for myself and my family in mind.

"I've always felt lucky to be able to say I've played for the team I've supported since I was a young boy growing up on north end road.

"Chelsea is and always will be my club no matter what."

Former Chelsea player Pat Nevin, meanwhile, felt it would have been a difficult decision for Abramovich to take.

And he is most concerned about the impact on some of the youngsters Lampard brought through.

"I am desperately saddened to see Frank Lampard leaving the club, but then again who isn't," he wrote on the Chelsea website.

"I suspect those who made the decision are saddened too. In fact, if you aren't upset at all then you almost certainly aren't a true Chelsea fan.

"The players need to get their heads right after such a shock.

"It is going to be a particularly big ask for some of the younger players who have had Frank and his coaching team to thank for their opportunities and who each looked to him as a mentor. 

"They must be professional now and work with the new coach, but it is undoubtedly a concerning time for them."

Steven Gerrard was "gutted" to see Chelsea sack Frank Lampard and has hit out at the Blues for not giving their managers time.

During their playing careers, Rangers boss Gerrard was a team-mate of Lampard for England as well as a Premier League rival as the two battled it out with Liverpool and Chelsea.

He felt Chelsea had the opportunity to be different this time by offering their former star player support during a difficult period, the Blues having slumped to ninth in the table.

But ultimately Gerrard was not surprised to see owner Roman Abramovich wield the axe on Monday.

"I did think it was an opportunity for Chelsea to really reach out and support him during this tough period rather than do what they have done," Gerrard said when asked about Lampard's sacking.

"But Chelsea have got history for that so it was no surprise."

Gerrard believes Lampard, who was previously in charge of Championship outfit Derby County, will make a prompt return to management.

He added: "Obviously I'm gutted for Frank, he's an ex-team-mate of mine, someone I respect greatly.

"But knowing the guy, he will be back in no time. He will dust himself down and get back involved. 

"He will use this time to spend with his family. He's obviously got a young family and one on the way.

"I'm disappointed for him. I thought it was a very swift exit on the back of a positive result at the weekend [a 3-1 FA Cup win over Luton Town on Sunday].

"But I don't know the details. I don't know how it's been for him, I don't know the relationships that he's had inside the club."

Former Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel is poised to replace Lampard at Stamford Bridge.

Gerrard, meanwhile, is closing in on a first Scottish Premiership title and has also led Rangers into the Europa League knockout stages.

Jose Mourinho feels Chelsea's decision to sack Frank Lampard highlights the "brutality" of football.

The Blues ended Lampard's reign after just 18 months on Monday, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel poised to replace him.

Mourinho has had two spells as Chelsea manager, both of which ended mid-season, and is well aware of the pressures at Stamford Bridge.

The Tottenham boss regrets any managerial sackings but felt particularly sad for his former player Lampard.

"I don't think Frank wants to speak to me or with anyone apart from his close circle of family and friends," Mourinho, who turned 58 on Tuesday, told reporters.

"But I am always sad when a colleague loses his job.

"And Frank is not just a colleague - he is an important person in my career - so I feel sorry he did [get sacked].

"But it is the brutality of football, especially modern football so when you become a manager you know that sooner or later it is going to happen to you."

Mourinho was speaking after a late surge gave Tottenham a 4-1 away win over Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.

Spurs are fifth in the Premier League, four points and four places ahead of rivals Chelsea, who have only won eight of their first 19 top-flight games this season.

In a statement after his sacking, Lampard said he was disappointed at being prevented from taking Chelsea to the next level.

But the former Derby County boss expressed pride at the emergence of several academy players during his tenure.

For so long, Real Madrid have been linked with Kylian Mbappe but will the LaLiga champions bring the French forward to the Santiago Bernabeu?

Mbappe is reportedly open to the idea of making the move to the Spanish capital.

However, Liverpool could be ready to hijack any transfer.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO MADRID?

Kylian Mbappe dominates the front pages of Tuesday's Diario AS and Mundo Deportivo as Real Madrid try to sign the Paris Saint-Germain star.

Mbappe – out of contract in 2022 – has been tipped to swap Ligue 1 holders PSG for LaLiga champions Madrid at the end of the season.

While the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic impacts Madrid, the Spanish giants are still working on a deal to prise the Frenchman to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Vinicius Junior a possible makeweight.

Mundo Deportivo says Premier League champions Liverpool are ready to pounce should Madrid fail to sign Mbappe.

 

ROUND-UP

- Onda Cero reports PSG have offered Madrid captain Sergio Ramos a three-year deal worth €15million a season. Ramos is set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the superstar has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Juventus.

- Both Madrid and Barcelona are considering a shock move for Roma striker Edin Dzeko, according to Mundo Deportivo. Dzeko has had a falling out with under-fire head coach Paulo Fonseca, prompting links to Juve and Inter.

Thomas Tuchel is set to be named Frank Lampard's Chelsea replacement, with Fabrizio Romano claiming an announcement is "just a matter of time". Tuchel was sacked by PSG in December.

- The Athletic says Juve have identified Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres as a long-term replacement for veteran Giorgio Chiellini. Torres has also been linked with United, Manchester City, Barca, Madrid and Chelsea.

Tottenham have approached PSG's Angel Di Maria, who is out of contract at the end of the season, according to L'Equipe. Di Maria has history in England, having spent a difficult season playing for United in 2014-15.

- Sport 1 says Borussia Dortmund are interested in Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli. The likes of Juve and City have also emerged as suitors.

Pep Guardiola offered his sympathy to sacked Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard but recognised managers have to win to keep their jobs in the Premier League.

Blues playing great Lampard was dismissed on Monday following a run of just two victories in eight league matches, leaving Chelsea in ninth and 11 points off the top.

A club statement described "a very difficult decision", but owner Roman Abramovich is now set to turn to Thomas Tuchel, who was fired by Paris Saint-Germain last month.

Lampard averaged an underwhelming 1.67 points per game during his tenure and Manchester City counterpart Guardiola knows more is expected.

"Young and old managers, here you have to win," Guardiola said. "When the people talk about projects and ideas, they don't exist. You have to win; if not, you will be sacked.

"Respect for Chelsea, huge hug for Frank. Hopefully I can see him soon; when the lockdown will be over, I can go to a restaurant to see him again."

Asked for his assessment of Lampard's work, Guardiola reiterated: "It depends on the results.

"The way we play, the philosophy, the project... you have to get results. If you don't, you will be replaced by another manager."

But the City boss does wish coaches were given more time - from the media as well as clubs.

"All the managers, we need this," he said. "I'm not judging the decision from Chelsea ,I am not there. Respect in every decision, it has to be this way.

"But sometimes the journalists ask the club to be patient when the journalists don't have patience. We drop one game and we should sack all the managers?

"We try to win as much as possible, but it doesn't happen if you don't have the directors, the board, the owners and CEOs in the same line and you know exactly what the target is.

"Every manager needs time to do what you believe or make the players feel that it doesn't matter what happens, we believe in this, in this idea.

"And that is exceptional; it only happens in a few places around the world because the board, owners, CEOs want results immediately, quick, quick, quick.

"Winning the Premier League in November is better than January and winning in January is better than May. But this doesn't happen.

"It's difficult to talk about the projects in years, because in one month you can drop everything you built. The opponents also have good players, managers, too; you are always at risk to be out."

Guardiola finds himself in a relatively comfortable position at City, though, after a run of 10 straight victories in all competitions eased early-season pressure.

West Brom, up next on Tuesday, were the last team to stop City winning, but Guardiola is not interested in reflecting on how they turned their season around following that 1-1 draw.

"It's difficult to say," he said. "We won the next game in Southampton, one of the turning points. In that moment, Southampton were in incredible form.

"The process was we start to play better, more confident. We saw we were far away from the top of the league, then we get closer, the team eats better, trains better, we get results, successive wins.

"I know always you ask me about the past; what happened happened. I'm not a big fan of this. The next one is always important, like we have done in recent weeks."

Indeed, if City win the next one they will top the table for the first time this season - the ninth different team to reach the summit this term - with rivals Manchester United not in action until Wednesday.

"The leader is United - they are top of the league," Guardiola said. "We'll have all the games, the same games all together, we will see.

"But now we aren't top of the league. The distance is so narrow, but I don't see the table much; I didn't watch it when we were 12th, now it's the same. My focus after Cheltenham is West Bromwich."

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Chelsea statement did not comment on Tuchel's potential arrival but read: "This has been a very difficult decision, and not one that the owner and the board have taken lightly.

"We are grateful to Frank for what he has achieved in his time as head coach of the club. However, recent results and performances have not met the club's expectations, leaving the club mid-table without any clear path to sustained improvement.

"There can never be a good time to part ways with a club legend such as Frank, but after lengthy deliberation and consideration it was decided a change is needed now to give the club time to improve performances and results this season."

Owner Roman Abramovich added: "This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him.

"He is a man of great integrity and has the highest of work ethics. However, under current circumstances we believe it is best to change managers.

"On behalf of everyone at the club, the board and personally, I would like to thank Frank for his work as head coach and wish him every success in the future.

"He is an important icon of this great club and his status here remains undiminished. He will always be warmly welcomed back at Stamford Bridge."

Lampard was unable to replicate the success of his playing career at Stamford Bridge, where he won 11 major trophies in 13 years.

This was his second senior coaching role, having fallen just short of promotion from the Championship with Derby County in 2018-19.

A return to Chelsea followed, with Lampard given the task of overseeing a period of transition as the club served a transfer ban while bringing through a number of players from their talented academy.

Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham and Reece James all established themselves as regulars as the Blues qualified for the Champions League last term and reached the FA Cup final.

Expectations were raised by significant expenditure in the close-season transfer window, with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Ben Chilwell among those arriving, and Chelsea initially thrived, climbing to the top of the table in December 2020.

But the 2020-21 campaign has since gone on a downward spiral, their poor run of form including defeats to Everton, Wolves, Arsenal, Manchester City and Leicester City.

The latter three reverses were especially humbling, handing struggling Arsenal a much-needed win before being completely outplayed by City. Leicester - title contenders unlike Chelsea - were comfortable in Lampard's final league game in charge on Tuesday.

Lampard's tenure ended with a 3-1 victory against Luton Town in the FA Cup in which Abraham scored a hat-trick, although Werner's struggles continued with a penalty miss.

Werner and Havertz have failed to perform consistently following their big-money moves from the Bundesliga.

They will hope to be boosted by the apparently imminent appointment of fellow German Tuchel, who won two Ligue 1 titles and made the Champions League final with PSG.

Frank Lampard has been sacked as Chelsea head coach, the Blues have confirmed.

Widespread reports emerged on Monday that the Blues were set to dismiss Lampard after a run of two wins in eight Premier League games left them ninth, 11 points off the pace.

Confirmation soon followed, bringing to an end Lampard's 18-month reign back at the club where he remains the all-time record goalscorer, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel expected to be appointed as his successor.

Frank Lampard will be sacked as Chelsea head coach on Monday, according to widespread reports.

It is said former Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel will take charge at Stamford Bridge just a month after leaving the Ligue 1 champions.

Confirmation of Lampard's departure is seemingly set to follow a run of two wins in eight Premier League games.

The Blues' record goalscorer was appointed in July 2019 and led them to a fourth-place finish and the FA Cup final in his debut campaign as a top-flight coach.

Chelsea invested heavily ahead of the 2020-21 season and were top of the table at the start of December.

But a dreadful run has seen Chelsea slide down to ninth, 11 points off the pace, reportedly costing club great Lampard his job the day after a 3-1 FA Cup win against Luton Town.

Lampard's failure to get the best out of an expensively assembled side appeared to heavily contribute to his demise.

Timo Werner continued his miserable run of form with a penalty miss against Luton, his only goal since November having come in the previous round of the cup at home to Morecambe.

Germany colleague Kai Havertz has netted only once in the Premier League, with his most recent three starts in the competition all coming in defeats.

Havertz was in the line-up at Everton when Chelsea, top after beating Leeds United in their first match in December, went down 1-0.

A late defeat at Wolves followed and victory over West Ham could not arrest the slump, as struggling rivals Arsenal eased past the Blues on Boxing Day.

Held by Aston Villa, Chelsea were then outclassed by Manchester City before a narrow win at relegation-battling Fulham eased the pressure only slightly.

Defeat at Leicester City - Premier League contenders while Chelsea flounder - was apparently the final straw, despite progress in the cup.

In Tuchel, a compatriot of Werner and Havertz, Chelsea would bring in a coach who won consecutive titles in France and also guided PSG to last season's Champions League final.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss looks to have been preferred to Massimiliano Allegri and ex-Chelsea coach Rafael Benitez.

Inter star Lautaro Martinez's future could be closer to being sorted, while Frank Lampard is under enormous pressure.

After impressing at Inter, Martinez, 23, has been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona.

The Argentina international is contracted at Inter until 2023, but that could be set to change.

 

TOP STORY – INTER OPTIMISTIC OVER MARTINEZ RENEWAL

Inter are optimistic about reaching an agreement for a new contract with Lautaro Martinez, according to Sky Sport.

The report says Martinez's agents met with Inter on Wednesday.

Martinez has scored nine goals in 18 Serie A games this season, having netted 14 in 35 in the league in 2019-20, leading to interest from Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

- As Chelsea's struggles continue, Lampard is under growing pressure as head coach. Sky Sports reports the former England international will lose his job unless results improve immediately. Chelsea have lost five of their past eight Premier League games to slip to eighth in the table. The Independent, meanwhile, reports Chelsea are not interested in an interim replacement. Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel, RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, Southampton's Ralph Hasenhuttl and ex-Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri have been linked.

- Previously linked to Arsenal, Houssem Aouar may be looking elsewhere if he leaves Lyon. ESPN claims the midfielder is eager to join Barcelona or Real Madrid.

- Set to stay at Manchester City until the end of the season, Eric Garcia has been linked with a move to Barcelona when his deal expires in June. However, Mundo Deportivo says PSG are planning a move for the defender.

- Arsenal could make moves in January. Sky Sports reports they have approached Real Madrid about a move for Martin Odegaard, while Cuatro claims Sevilla are hoping to loan the midfielder.

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo believes Mauricio Pochettino can help refine the Ligue 1 club's identity.

Thomas Tuchel was sacked as PSG coach in December, with former Tottenham boss Pochettino confirmed as his replacement on January 2.

Leonardo said it was crucial for Pochettino to ensure PSG had their own defining philosophy but acknowledged that would take time.

"I think it's important to assert a style on the pitch, because Paris must have its identity," he told France Football.

"It does not happen in a few weeks but over several years. And I think Pochettino can allow us to refine that in a constant way and in connection with the DNA of the club."

Tuchel led PSG to back-to-back Ligue 1 titles and they reached the Champions League final last year before falling to Bayern Munich.

Leonardo said the decision to sack the German should have come as little surprise to the former Borussia Dortmund coach.

"We knew, and he [Tuchel] knew, that it would be difficult to renew his contract at the end of the season," he said.

"But there, we decided to anticipate a little. We did not change coaches to show off. I don't think it could be a surprise for Tuchel.

"It was not the first time that we discussed the situation together. Maybe he didn't understand me anymore."

PSG are top of the Ligue 1 table ahead of hosting Montpellier on Friday.

Mauricio Pochettino acknowledged the role Thomas Tuchel played in his first managerial trophy as Paris Saint-Germain beat Marseille 2-1 in the Trophee des Champions on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi and Neymar – the Brazil international's 18th successful penalty from the 19 he has taken for PSG – scored for the Ligue 1 champions, while Dimitri Payet set up a tense finale with an 89th-minute strike for Andre Villas-Boas' side. 

PSG held on, though, to claim a record eighth consecutive Trophee des Champions crown and their 10th overall midweek.

It was only Pochettino's third game in charge of PSG and the former Tottenham boss made sure he recognised the work of Tuchel, who was dismissed as head coach on December 29. 

"I want to thank the players, Leonardo [sporting director] and Nasser Al-Khelaifi [president]," Pochettino – a Champions League and EFL Cup runner-up with Spurs – said. "I also have a thought for Thomas Tuchel and his staff, who allowed us to play this match."

"We are making progress in all areas where we want to implement our ideas. We have a very intelligent group of players, with great adaptability. We are very happy.

"I hope to win other titles, but the first one will always be special.

"The group has shown a lot of maturity, it has learned from its mistakes. It's a huge emotion to win with this staff, it's difficult to describe in words, especially since it's a club that made me become a better person, a better player."

Marseille finished the game having had four shots on target to PSG's three, although the Parisians enjoyed a whopping 63.6 per cent possession and completed 268 more passes than their opponents. 

Despite that, Villas-Boas believes his side did not deserve to lose. 

"It was a balanced game, with few chances for both teams," he said. "We were the best team. I think we didn't deserve to lose this game. PSG going 2-0 up went against the run of play

"Congratulations to PSG. The best honour they gave us was the party that followed, because we offered them a difficult match."

Thomas Tuchel was overperforming at Paris Saint-Germain this season and did not deserve to be sacked, according to his assistant Zsolt Low.

PSG finally confirmed Tuchel's dismissal on Tuesday after days of speculation, bringing an end to his two and a half year stay at the Parc des Princes.

The German coach won back-to-back Ligue 1 titles in his two full campaigns and also won the Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and two Trophee des Champions.

Tuchel also guided PSG to a maiden Champions League final in 2019-20, where they were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich.

But he endured a fractious relationship with sporting director Leonardo after publicly calling out the club's transfer chief over a lack of spending heading into this season.

Not helped by a number of injury issues and a lack of pre-season, PSG lost four and drew two of their opening 17 Ligue 1 matches and entered the mid-season break down in third.

However, they beat Strasbourg 4-0 in what proved to be Tuchel's last match and are just a point behind top two sides Lyon and Lille, having also advanced from a tricky Champions League group and into the last 16.

Low has outlined the details behind Tuchel's sacking and says the timing of the decision came as a shock.

"We were surprised because on December 23, after winning a match 4-0 against Strasbourg, Leonardo brought us together to say that the club was no longer counting on Thomas for the future," he told Hungarian outlet Nemzeti Sport. 

"After facing considerable difficulties in 2020, after achieving historic success with PSG, after going through the group stage of the Champions League, and with the team in full swing in the league, it made the decision very difficult to understand. 

"And the fact that we were impacted by numerous injuries throughout the season, and had to come up against COVID-19. I think that it was a great professional success to finish the year the way we did. We overperformed, that is the truth."

Tuchel appeared to criticise PSG in an interview published on the day of the Strasbourg victory, in which he also admitted managing the club was more like being a "politician".

Although surprised at the timing of the sacking, Low concedes the tense relationship between Tuchel and Leonardo meant something eventually had to give.

"We were shocked," he said. "The summer window did not go as we wanted, the main players who left after the Champions League run were not correctly replaced. 

"That created tensions between certain board members and the staff, as well as with the sporting director who was espousing management principles that were different to that of the coach.

"I don't want to delve into the details. They had different ideas in a number of domains, and the difference in viewpoint accrued over time. This led to Leonardo deciding to create a future with a different staff. 

"To be honest this situation could not have lasted. It was better to stop now, nearly at the summit, to say goodbye with a great majority of wonderful memories. Not to have followed Thomas would have gone against my values."

Low, who has previously worked as assistant boss at Salzburg and RB Leipzig, added: "Before, I had the opportunity to take the place of managers at Salzburg and Leipzig, and I did not take those opportunities. 

"When I fight alongside someone, it is for better or worse. The professional relationship between Thomas and I is extremely tight, he keeps his word, he counts on me, that is why I feel part of the successes. 

"And the failures too. I arrived at PSG upon his call two and a half years ago, I was alongside him at all times."

PSG announced Mauricio Pochettino as Tuchel's successor on Saturday, with his first game in charge away at Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.

New Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino says he is honoured to take charge of "some of the world's most talented players".

The former Tottenham boss signed a contract until June 2022, which includes an option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions on Saturday.

Pochettino replaces Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after reports of his sacking initially emerged on Christmas Eve.

After his appointment was confirmed, Pochettino discussed his pride and ambition after returning to the club he played for between 2001 and 2003.

The prospect of managing the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe was one about which he was already excited.

"I am really happy and honoured to become the new coach of Paris Saint-Germain," Pochettino, 48, told his new club's website

"I would like to thank the club's management for the trust they have placed in me. 

"As you know, this club has always held a special place in my heart. I have wonderful memories, especially of the unique atmosphere of the Parc des Princes. 

"I return to the club today with a lot of ambition and humility, and am eager to work with some of the world's most talented players. 

"This team has fantastic potential and my staff and I will do everything we can to get the best for Paris Saint-Germain in all competitions. 

"We will also do our utmost to give our team the combative and attacking playing identity that Parisian fans have always loved."

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi felt the appointment meant Pochettino had returned to his footballing home.

"We are very pleased to welcome Mauricio Pochettino as first team coach," he said.

"I am proud to see our former captain returning to Paris Saint-Germain, as the club has always remained his home. 

"The return of Mauricio fits perfectly with our ambitions and it will be another exciting chapter for the club and one I am positive the fans will enjoy. 

"With the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino, Paris Saint-Germain is committed to continue to build and move the club forward over the coming years."

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, he turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while taking them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

Tuchel was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

PSG are third in Ligue 1, one point behind leaders Lyon, while Barcelona will be their last-16 opponents in the Champions League next month.

Pochettino's first game in charge will be on Wednesday, when PSG play away to Saint-Etienne in the league.

Paris Saint-Germain have appointed Mauricio Pochettino as their new head coach.

The former Tottenham boss has signed a contract until June 2022, with the option for a further year, with the Ligue 1 champions. He will replace Thomas Tuchel, whose dismissal was finally confirmed on Tuesday after days of speculation.

The German was sacked after an inconsistent start to the 2020-21 season despite having guided PSG to their first Champions League final in August, where they lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich.

Defeats in this season's group stage to Manchester United and RB Leipzig had put Tuchel under pressure, although he was able to lead his side into the last 16 after winning their final three games.

However, there were suggestions PSG's hierarchy had concerns about Tuchel's ability to guide his team past Barcelona in the knockout phase.

Four defeats in 17 Ligue 1 matches, leaving PSG a point behind leaders Lyon, also counted against Tuchel, while a public spat with sporting director Leonardo over transfers appeared to weaken his position further.

Pochettino, previously linked with the Real Madrid and Manchester United jobs, was sacked by Spurs in November last year after five impressive years in charge in north London.

Although he failed to win a trophy, the former Espanyol and Southampton boss turned Spurs into regular top-four contenders and Premier League title hopefuls, while he took them to the Champions League final in 2019, where they lost to Liverpool.

After taking charge in 2014, Pochettino led Spurs to four top-four finishes in five full seasons, twice the number they managed in their previous 22 Premier League campaigns.

He reached 100 wins in the competition in 197 games, the sixth quickest in history alongside Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish.

However, Spurs' domestic form suffered badly in 2019 as they tallied 18 defeats in all competitions from January 1 to November 19, when Pochettino was dismissed.

Pochettino has won admirers throughout his coaching career for getting his teams to adopt high-pressing and attacking football, qualities which have become demands of PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi in recent seasons.

When Tuchel was appointed in 2018, Al-Khelaifi said: "He abides by very strong principles of playing spectacular and clinical football that has always been the foundation of German football, especially on the international scene.

"His competitive spirit, his preference for attacking football and his strong character are in line with what we have always wanted for PSG - this style that our loyal supporters have always demanded and admired."

Paris Saint-Germain have used the mid-season break to replace Thomas Tuchel with Mauricio Pochettino, and the new head coach has some big issues to contend with.

A 4-0 win over Strasbourg before the mid-season break was not enough to spare Tuchel, who was relieved of his duties after two and a half years at the helm.

Tuchel left PSG having won six trophies in the French capital, while also taking the club to the brink of a long-awaited Champions League success last term.

PSG ultimately came up short, going down 1-0 to a dominant Bayern Munich in the final.

Tuchel remained in place for the new season but was only been able to guide the club to third in Ligue 1, with the Parisians losing four of their 17 matches.

Pochettino spent over two years with PSG in his playing days and was picked to take over the reins at the Parc des Princes, signing a contract until June 2022 with an option for a further year.

Here are the major issues Pochettino must contend with.

 

ASSERT LIGUE 1 DOMINANCE

While the Champions League is clearly the be-all and end-all for PSG's Qatari owners, the bedrock of their success is domestic supremacy.

Over the past eight seasons, PSG have only failed to win the Ligue 1 title once – during Unai Emery's first season in charge, when a Kylian Mbappe-inspired Monaco charged to glory.

Tuchel had little trouble in claiming back-to-back championships, albeit last season's Ligue 1 campaign was curtailed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, with the congested nature of 2020-21 making life tough for all of Europe's biggest teams, PSG find themselves point behind joint-leaders Lille and Lyon, the latter of whom recently claimed their first league win at Parc des Princes since 2007.

It is hardly an unassailable gap, though the first task for PSG's new head coach will be to return to the top of the pile, while defending their Coupe de France crown will also provide another chance for a trophy.

SECURE THAT ALL-IMPORTANT CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ultimately, any coach at PSG is judged on their success – or lack thereof – in Europe.

Tuchel pushed PSG further than any other coach has in the Champions League since Qatar Sports Investments' takeover, but it was still not enough to stop Hansi Flick's Bayern completing an incredible treble.

PSG were inconsistent in this season's condensed group stage, losing at home to Manchester United and away to RB Leipzig, before a 3-1 win at Old Trafford and a 5-1 victory over Istanbul Basaksehir secured their place in the knockout stages.

Ronald Koeman's iffy Barcelona team await in the last 16, and there has arguably never been a better time to face the Catalan giants in Europe – although Bayern's 8-2 rout back in August may suggest differently.

Crucial to any push for silverware in UEFA's elite club competition will be getting the best out of Neymar and Mbappe. The latter missed some big chances in last season's final, and only against Basaksehir did he end a year-long run without a Champions League goal (nine games).

KEEP NEYMAR AND MBAPPE, AND THROW IN MESSI FOR GOOD MEASURE

PSG's sporting director Leonardo has confirmed contract discussions are underway with Neymar and Mbappe.

France star Mbappe has already scored 104 times across all competitions for PSG, though Real Madrid and Barca have regularly been touted as suitors – then again, which of Europe's elite clubs would not want the 22-year-old in their ranks?

Neymar, meanwhile, has consistently been linked with a move back to Barca, but that transfer is looking increasingly unlikely.

Indeed, the prospect of the Brazil superstar linking up with Lionel Messi once more seems much more likely to occur in Paris than at Camp Nou.

Messi begrudgingly decided to stay and see out the remaining year of his Barca contract but has started to hit better form again – he has scored six times in his past eight league games to surpass Pele's record of 643 goals for one club.

Koeman believes Messi is happy at Barca, but as it stands the 33-year-old is set to become the most highly sought-after free agent in history at the end of 2020-21.

While it was Manchester City and Pep Guardiola who were credited as frontrunners in the close season, PSG's owners certainly have the ambition – and funds – to make a transfer come to fruition, and it may well be down to the coach to swing Messi towards Paris, rather than the Premier League or a Barca extension.

Pochettino has previously spoken of his desire to work alongside his compatriot, and it may well be a perfect match.

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